I showed up at Roth’s (Columbus Avenue at 93rd Street) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan late last Friday night — October 23, 2009 — to capture a few numbers by that most telepathic duo of Jon-Erik Kellso and Ehud Asherie.
Although the restaurant is moderately well-lit (as restaurants go), and you can see HIBISCUS COLLINS advertised on the blackboard, these videos take some getting used to, and my more discerning viewers might wish to pretend that their computer monitors have become floor-model console radios for the duration. Or perhaps they could simply close their eyes and dream . . .
The first number, I’M GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER, often gets played too fast. It’s really a love ballad — not exactly expressing grief, but some level of deprivation: “I’m going to write a letter to myself (pretending that it came from you) because you don’t write to me . . .” is a sad conceit. When Fats Waller sang and played it, the mournfulness was undercut by his natural ebullience. Ehud and Jon-Erik take it at a properly pensive tempo, musing along, floating through time, space, and the barlines in a manner that recalls Ruby Braff and Dick Hyman when those two monumental players got into a tender groove:
Then, they finished the evening with the Arlen-Koehler BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA. Jon and Ehud were particularly inspired, recalling early Roy Eldridge, venturing here and there, playing delightedly, tossing musical ideas at each other with great friendly style:
Music like this makes every kind of darkness disappear.